What are “soft skills , behavioral skills that are increasingly in demand by employers

What are “soft skills , behavioral skills that are increasingly in demand by employers

BBC

Kate Morgan BBC Future

posted on 08/14/2022 16:18

    (Image credit: Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)




To do your job well, you need technical skills socalled hard skills. It is the specific technical knowledge to perform its tasks.

But the professional world is no longer the same. Therefore, soft skills social and emotional skills today may have the same importance as technical knowledge or even more.

These abilities are more subtle and discreet. Think about the behaviors and personal traits that make someone a good leader or team player.


Especially now, with the normalization of remote work and changes in the way we collaborate and innovate, companies are beginning to realize how important these intangible skills are to building diverse teams successfully.

The result, according to experts, is that employers are increasingly considering the soft skills of candidates in addition to experience and professional knowhow.

For some professionals, some of these skills are innate—personality traits that make someone a naturally good communicator or analytical thinker. But for others, developing and improving soft skills can be more of a challenge.

Still, all professionals can develop and improve these qualities by learning to demonstrate them. And we all, experts say, should do it.

What are “soft skills”?

There is no definitive list of soft skills, but they are essentially skills that go beyond technique.

Dexterity with certain software, for example, is a type of hard skill; Just knowing how to analyze different software packages to figure out which company to use requires critical thinking, which is a soft skill.

Another important area of ​​the soft skill is communication. Communicating effectively with colleagues, customers and superiors requires dexterity and emotional intelligence. Empathy, teamwork and solidarity are also skills that belong to this group.

The term soft skills is just jargon, according to Eric Frazer, author of The Psychology of Top Talents and professor of psychology at Yale University School of Medicine in the United States.

For him, “from a behavioral science perspective, it actually refers to a set of ways of thinking and behaving. Some examples of mindsets that represent soft skills could be someone who is constantly learning or someone who is very resilient. And many behaviors are also soft skills — [como] critical thinking, active listening and creative problem solving to name a few.”

Basically, Frazer adds, the phrase is just another definition of “interpersonal skills.”

“It’s about people’s selfesteem and how they relate to others.”

Several types of soft skills are very useful, such as B. Efficiency, prioritization, organization, and time management — traits that are becoming increasingly important for remote and hybrid workers.

“High performers have the discipline to structure their day and be highly effective in a defined period of time,” says Frazer.

And soft skills are not only useful at work. In general, they are valuable resources. For example, the same skills that enable professionals to work successfully in the corporate hierarchy and rise to the top also lead to successful interpersonal relationships.

remarkable change

As many of the highly technical parts of the job become increasingly automated or replaced with technological tools, organizations are looking for professionals who are able to solve problems, take on greater responsibility, and work well with others.


The current labor shortage in some countries has also led to companies taking a longterm view. Employees with enough emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills to achieve leadership positions offer much more value.

Additionally, soft skills have become even more important in the postpandemic landscape as work is largely done remotely. Communication can be much more subtle and complex when professionals don’t see colleagues in person.

And adaptability is also a soughtafter soft skill, as the last two years in particular have shown. As such, employers actively seek candidates who possess these skills.


group of employeesGetty Images soft skills include communication, critical thinking, prioritization and more

A 2021 analysis of more than 80 million job postings across 22 industries by education NGO America Succeeds found that nearly twothirds of jobs listed soft skills as required qualifications.

And among job postings, seven of the top 10 most indemand skills were soft skills, including communication, problemsolving, and planning.

The same report showed that certain job types prioritize soft skills even more. These skills were the most soughtafter qualifications for 91% of managerial positions, 86% of business positions and 81% of engineering positions which may be surprising given that it is a highly technical field.

“If you look at the job market today, there’s clearly been a shift and just having what I would call ‘tacit knowledge’ and ‘tacit skills’ is no longer enough… which means you’re just good in what you do that. If you’re an engineer, you’re good at programming or designing. If you work in finance, you’re good at analyzing numeric data,” explains Frazer.

Organizations have changed to the point where, he says, “there’s a deeper understanding that people must come first, before performance.”

Frazer adds that this isn’t to say that technical skills are no longer needed, but that companies are increasingly realizing that emphasizing the soft skills that bind them together “brings great results.”

Monster’s report, The Future of Work 2021: Global Hiring Outlook, found that soft skills such as collaboration, reliability and flexibility are among the skills employers value most in talent.

Still, executives report struggling for years to find candidates with welldeveloped soft skills.

Part of this, Frazer says, is that it’s difficult to quantify skills like imagination and flexibility.

“Surveys and questionnaires don’t really capture these attributes accurately,” he says.

And candidates don’t necessarily highlight those skills on their resumes or LinkedIn pages as Frazer says they perhaps should.

Articulating your “innovative mindset”

This greater emphasis on soft skills can discourage some professionals, particularly those who are not naturally good communicators or, as Frazer puts it, “born leaders”.

But he cautions that these are skills that can be learned, even by people who may have to work a little harder.

“People who want to improve their job performance, become better professionals, or have more worklife balance understand and appreciate the value of constantly improving those mindsets and behaviors,” says Frazer.

We usually know our strengths, but improving our interpersonal skills starts with asking for feedback to identify our weaknesses and blind spots. Getting better may require us to make an effort to step out of our comfort zone.

For example, if you want to improve your creative thinking or problemsolving skills, try brainstorming sessions with the creative people in your organization.

Emotional intelligence can also be improved by developing social awareness and learning to control one’s own emotions and respond to others with empathy.

In addition to improving career prospects, there are other benefits: Studies show that people with high emotional intelligence are less likely to suffer from stress and anxiety.

As hiring managers increasingly look for individuals with these intangible skills, they can tailor their interview questions to discover candidates’ soft skills.


Puzzle assemblyGetty Images In the new job market, resumes alone are not enough

“If you’re asking someone to ‘give an example of a time when you were quite resilient in your professional life’ or ‘tell a story that highlights your innovative thinking,’ ask the candidate to demonstrate those thoughts,” explains Frazer.

As for the respondent, “Let’s say the interviewer asks, ‘What is your opinion on lifelong learning?'” he adds. This is the time to show the interviewer that you are ready and excited to learn and have the skills to do so.

“The best answer would be to say, ‘Well, I was at this conference last year; I attend this webinar once a month; I just read this book and I subscribe to this industry publication,” Frazer elaborates.

To best prepare for situations like these, candidates must first identify their most important soft skills and be prepared to demonstrate them, he says.

Technical knowledge and experience are always important on your resume.

But in the new job market, they alone aren’t enough—you still need to convince recruiters that you have the soft skills needed to succeed in your job.

read this Original version of this report (in English) on the website BBC working life.

This text was originally published at https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/vertcap62496935


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